The Ripsaw, the Phaser, and more new drone technology

The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College has a weekly newsletter devoted to drones. Here's a sampling of the military and domestic drone technology spotlighted this week.

The BBC looked at new anti-drone devices like Raytheon's "Phaser" that may have been sent to the Middle East after the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil fields:

Firing from a disc resembling a giant satellite dish atop a sand-coloured container it wipes out the digital elements inside a drone.

Raytheon cannot say where the rapidly purchased Phaser has been sent, but the Pentagon has stated that it is being deployed overseas.

Perhaps Phaser's biggest strength is it operates at the speed of light. That is the rate at which it fires out bursts of microwave radiation. And that can bring an approaching UAV down in a split second.

The beam emitted by Phaser is 100 metres broad at a distance of one kilometre. That translates into a lot of dangerous space for an attacking UAV. Targets are tracked by an electro-optical sensor converting images into electronic signals and working in tandem with the microwave beam.

Textron Systems showed off a robotic tank concept:

The vehicle, developed in collaboration with FLIR Systems – makers of the Black Hornet micro unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – and Howe & Howe uses FLIR systems technology to get a 360-degree image of its surroundings and can carry a range of payloads including a medium-calibre cannon, Javelin missile, and mine-clearing equipment.

Read the rest

You can read beautifully illustrated novels in the New York Public Library's Instagram account

In an effort to get more people reading, the New York Public Library set out to take advantage of Instagram's huge user base.  Mother New York designed "Insta Novels" as a way to read entire novels in Instagram Stories.  The books feature carefully selected fonts, beautiful animations, and some clever hacks to allow such an unorthodox use of the Instagram app:

one challenge was that the pages would turn themselves after 10 seconds. But the solution of the Thumb Rest gave us a simple way-finding element and let us add illustrations to every page for a more engaging reading experience.

...

Knowing the active story would only be live for 24-hours, we also launched a teaser post with each title to let readers know they could find a new title in our highlights. These posts served as mini-movie trailers for each book to bring the audience to the title.

You can read Alice in Wonderland, A Christmas Carol, The Raven, and more now.

Read the rest

Bruce Schneier makes the case for "public interest technologists"

Law school grads routinely go to work for crusading nonprofits and even those in private practice do pro bono work, thanks to a widespread understanding that lawyers have a professional duty to work for the public interest -- after all, understanding and navigating the law is a necessary precondition for freedom and fairness. Read the rest

Americans lack basic digital security and privacy knowledge, survey finds

Most U.S. adults answer fewer than half questions correctly on digital know-how quiz, and many struggle with cybersecurity and privacy

Nobel Prize in Chemistry split 3 ways for lithium-ion battery research

From left: Akira Yoshino, Dr. M. Stanley Whittingham and Dr. John Goodenough (Charles Dharapak / Yoshiaki Sakamoto / Kyodo News / Binghamton University)

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to three scientists whose work developing lithium-ion batteries made mobile phones, iPads, laptops, and electric cars possible.

The three recipients are U.S. engineer John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham of the U.K., and Akira Yoshino of Japan. They will share the 9 million Swedish kronor ($906,000) prize awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Read the rest

PlayStation 5 announced and detailed

PlayStation 5 is coming for winterval 2020, and will have ... drum roll ... USB-C. Read the rest

Trump: 'Digital is becoming a very big factor in the world'

Trump signs US trade deal with Japan

Apple iOS 13.1.2 for Hong Kong users lacks Taiwanese flag emoji

Flag for Taiwan emoji is missing

The Air Force will invite hackers to try to hijack a satellite at the next Defcon

At last month's Defcon, the United States Air Force invited pre-selected hackers to attempt to sabotage an F-15 fighter-jet data system:

And after two long days, the seven hackers found a mother lode of vulnerabilities that — if exploited in real life — could have completely shut down the Trusted Aircraft Information Download Station, which collects reams of data from video cameras and sensors while the jet is in flight.

Pleased with the results, the USAF has announced that next year's Defcon will feature an assault on a satellite. There will again be a pre-screening and qualifying process:

Sometime soon, the Air Force will put out a call for submissions. Think you know how to hack a satellite or its ground station? Let them know. A select number of researchers whose pitches seem viable will be invited to try out their ideas during a “flat-sat” phase—essentially a test build comprising all the eventual components—six months before Defcon. That group will once again be culled; the Air Force will fly the winners out to Defcon for a live hacking competition.

The tentative plan is to allow the hackers to try to take control of an orbiting satellite:

“What we’re planning on doing is taking a satellite with a camera, have it pointing at the Earth, and then have the teams try to take over control of the camera gimbals and turn toward the moon”

You can find information about Defcon 28 here. Read the rest

It only looks like these Fashion Week models are being dressed by drones

Issey Miyake's presentation at Paris Fashion Week featured dancers, skateboarders, and models wearing skin tone undergarments.  Once the models walked into position, they were dressed by a mechanism descending from the air.  Contrary to a viral tweet, the delivery mechanism was ropes and pulleys, not drones:

W Magazine discussed designing for virality earlier this month:

Simon Porte Jacquemus has a simple and savvy approach as a fashion designer: Will his clothes look good on social media? So far, it has served him well. It was, for instance, the reason he created La Bomba, a straw hat so massive it could shade a small village, for his spring 2018 show. “My team said, ‘Simon, no one is going to wear these huge hats, we’ll just make a few.’ We sold hundreds,” he notes. It is also why, for the same show, he shrunk down his Le Chiquito ­handbag to absurd (and adorable) doll-size ­proportions—a move that launched a thousand memes, and resulted in yet another success. “If it’s cute on ­Instagram, it will sell,” he explains. “That’s just the world we live in.”

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WHAT WILL YOU PUT INSIDE ? THE MINI CHIQUITO NOW AVAILABLE. JACQUEMUS.COM

A post shared by JACQUEMUS (@jacquemus) on Jul 12, 2019 at 5:30am PDT

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This is your smartphone on feminism

Maria Farrell admits that comparing smartphones to abusive men (they try to keep you from friends and family, they make it hard to study or go to work, they constantly follow you and check up on you) might seem to trivialize domestic partner violence, but, as she points out, feminists have long been pointing out both the literal and metaphorical ways in which tech replicates misogyny. Read the rest

Trump blames LED lightbulbs for making him look orange

Trump wants to roll back regulations that promote low-power light bulbs, even though at this point the industry has moved on and isn't likely to do much in the way of modernizing incandescents. His interest is, as always, deeply personal: he thinks LED lights make him look orange.

“The light bulb,” the president began. “People said what’s with the light bulb. I said here’s the story, and I looked at it. The bulb that we’re being forced to use. No. 1, to me, most importantly, the light’s no good. I always look orange. And so do you. The light is the worst.”

I like this one because it is true that cheap LED lights tend to emit a poor spectrum of light, even if the bulb itself appears to have a desirable color temperature. It may well be true that some bulbs make him appear orangier than he already is. But if he wasn't so crudely tanned and made-up in the first place, it would never be a problem. Like hurricane-map spaghetti lines, the truth only makes the lie more obvious, and that's what makes the Trump magic happen.

UPDATE: Video.

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Paleocomputing watch: Tech magazines cover the BBS scene

The wonderful folks at Paleotronic (previously) have rounded up scans of articles from 1980s-era computer magazines that advised new computer users on navigating the burgeoning world of dial-up BBSes. Read the rest

Tiny gallium nitride laptop chargers are upon us

There's nothing I hate in my bag so much as my laptop charger, a heavy Lenovo-grade brick of black plastic with two thick cables sticking out of each end, invariably forming a coiled knot of nonsense three times larger still. So I ordered this alarmingly small universal charger from RAVpower as soon as I saw that Wirecutter didn't recommend it. It's smaller than an iPad charger, but charges a MacBook Pro or Thinkpad.

The RAVPower also charges the way it should. We ran the RP-PC112 through our standard testing procedures, which include running Total Phase’s USB Power Delivery Analyzer and its Data Center Software. This test tells us the power rates the chargers make available to connected devices, the actual power output observed when they’re connected, and whether any errors occur during charging. The RAVPower passed without issue.

The special sauce in these new power supplies is Gallium Nitride.

USB C Wall Charger, RAVPower 61W PD 3.0 [GaN Tech] Type C Fast Charging Power Delivery Foldable Adapter, Compatible with MacBook Pro/Air, Ipad Pro 2018, iPhone Xs Max/XR/X and More [Amazon] Read the rest

Apple sets date to plop our new iPhones

I spend a lot of time typing shit and talking smack about Apple's recent hardware shortcomings, greasy dealings with authoritarian governments and questionable labor practices. But you know what? The still make my favorite smartphone. I kind of hate myself for that, but here we are.

It's looking like we'll soon have a whole new crop of iPhones to love/covet and loathe as the invitations for this fall's iPhone event have, it would seem, been dispatched on the chamfered wings of a lily white dove.

From The Verge:

Although Apple’s invitation doesn’t explicitly say what the company plans to announce at the event, the rumors suggest we’ll see three new iPhone models, and these will act as successors to the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. Two of these phones are expected to feature Apple’s first triple-camera system on the rear of the device, and the successor to the XS could also have a slightly bigger 6.1-inch display (up from 5.8 inches on the current model).

Another rumor suggests that these iPhones could support bidirectional wireless charging, allowing them to charge AirPods when used with their new wireless charging case. Upgrades to battery life and Face ID biometric security, as well as the use of new shatter-resistance technology have also been suggested.

I tend to ignore any talk of what Apple'll be releasing until it's been trotted out on stage—the world's on fire and careening off into space. So you know, things to do. But I know that lots of people dig playing what if with Cupertino-designed hardware. Read the rest

DOJ approves $26 billion T-Mobile and Sprint deal

Well, it's finally official. After more than a year in regulatory limbo, The United States Justice Department has approved a $26 billion dollar deal between mobile carriers T-Mobile and Sprint. Read the rest

Trump: Apple won't get a tariff break for Mac Pro parts made in China

Donald Trump says his administration will not provide any waivers or relief for Apple Mac Pro components built in China, and said Apple should instead build its products in the U.S. Read the rest

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